About This Word

friends with benefits

[frendz with ben-uh-fits]

What does friends with benefits mean?

Friends with benefits enjoy all the pleasures of sexual activity without the burdens of a committed relationship ... or so they like to claim.

Related words:

See how it's used

friends with benefits

Thought Catalog

Where does friends with benefits come from?

Friends with benefits are two close pals who occasionally hook up without any of the usual relationship baggage that comes with sex (the benefits)—you know, like romance and exclusivity. Humans have surely been attempting, and almost always failing at, such a gig since the beginning of time, but credit for the term friends with benefits is given to singer Alanis Morissette.

On her award-winning 1995 Jagged Little Pill track "Head Over Feet," Morissette sing: "You're my best friend / Best friend with benefits." Isn't it ironic, though, that Morissette here is talking about a lover—that is, being in romantic relationship—who is also a close friend?

The meaning of the phrase soon started shifting. In 1997, for instance, internet user Squeaker Munchkin pondered in a forum: "How do you classify a relationship of sleeping with your best friend?...Is this a 'best friends with benefits' thing, or a 'non-relationship'...or an unofficial relationship that could become something better?"

Well, Squeaker, it all depends. Sex makes things messy. Feeling always get in the way. By the 1990s, friends with benefits was an established term for two friends who have occasional casual sex.

Interest in the phrase spiked in 2011 with the release of the rom-com Friends with Benefits, starring Mila Kunis and Justin Timberlake. Guess what? Things get complicated. A competing flick, No Strings Attached, with Natalie Portman and Ashton Kutcher, also explored the theme that year.

Who uses friends with benefits?

Friends with benefits is often prized as an ideal but ultimately acknowledged as naive.

Saying you are friends with benefits with someone always elicits a sarcastic reply of ""Yeah, right" or "Say goodbye to that friendship, then" or "You've got yourself a relationship."

And, being friends with benefits requires maturity, honesty, and commitment from both parties ... like any relationship.

On the internet and dating apps, friend with benefits is often shortened to the acronym FWB. While it is often said of opposite-sex friends, friends with benefits of course applies to (and fails among) same-sex pairs, as well.

For example

Instead of a fwb that has sex can I have a fwb that buys me food? 😂

@xAlyssaMarino, May, 2018

It's either friends or its people with benefits. You cannot be friends with benefits. It ruins relationships.

@mssweetcreature, May, 2018

You can usually be in only one relationship, but who says you can't have more than one friend with benefits? Teyana and Drake both denied that they were ever together, but also stated that they are more than just friends.

Vorply, August, 2016

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